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October 6, 2003
Nutch: Are some social secrets necessary
I just checked in on Nutch
, the attempt at an open source search engine. There's not much visible movement on the project, or at least not much that can be gleaned by browsing the Sourceforge project page
Though projects go inactive for all sorts of reasons, I have always wondered if Nutch was doomed from the start. After seeing an unbelievable /. thread where a proud father was looking for advice on skewing Google searches to improve the PageRank of his baby pictures
(no, really), I wondered if this might be a place where the 'special sauce' that drives search ranking might have to be closed, in order to prevent exactly this sort of social gaming.
People only complain about Google searches when their placement falls, but the fact that they have no recourse may be an advantage. The incentive to manipulate search rankings is very high, and if the algorithm behind such searching were published, I wonder if it would be self-defeating?
It may be that to manage a world of selfish actors, there needs to be the online equivalent of the Muslim family that keeps the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, since none of the Christian sects can be trusted not to lock one another out. Do we need someone ot keep the key to search away from the people who have the most interest in abusing it?
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